Bububu-2. Crngrn Jrnl. Issue 18. Shishkin in the tunnel. Interview with Aleksander Alekseyev

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DEAC has been looking out on the Budva-Becici tunnel from the very beginning: with good and different artists at hand, it is not too difficult to transform a pedestrian facility into an attraction. Tablets with Aleksander Florensky’s Montenegro Alphabet have been in the tunnel for quite a long time, still the official “transformation of the tunnel into a gallery” was announced less than a month ago after projects by Aleksander Gordon (I will tell you about him later) and Aleksander Alekseyev were put on display there.  

Alekseyev’s works are classic pictures turned into pictograms, these are graphic patterns of paintings which, according to the backbone idea of the author, should be put up along highways, styled as road signs.  In Montenegro, the idea was adapted to the tunnel: a pedestrian can see six aluminium boards, 180 by 150 centimeters each.  

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Sasha, let us list them. The Bears by Shishkin, the Barge Haulers by Repin, the Hunters by Perov, Mona Lisa, Primavera by Botticelli, something else… what else?

Savrasov.

 

Savrasov with the birds… What determined such choice?

The production capacity, as more could have been done. I suggested about twelve pieces – the Cossaks writing to the sultan, Ivan the Terrible killing his son, the three bogatyrs… The supervisor chose these ones. Actually, it was initially assumed that the project would be called the Russian Museum, but it was decided to add two foreigners to make the pieces more recognizable.

Does this help in terms of recognizing?

There was a Montenegrin family walking, the elder one said, “Da Vinci. Desdemona”.

You are being ironic, still he recognized Da Vinci…

But the author is specified on the piece!

Oh, that’s right.

But that’s not the point. I do not know if many will recognize Russians. This topic is generally important, as our great artists, like Repin or Surikov for instance, are very little known in Europe. Just like Austrians. They have wonderful artists, their own monsters – which even I was not aware of having studied at an art college. We never set eyes on Schiele. And had no clue about Klimt…

 

The field of vision of the media, an individual person, a dictionary, or a textbook always grasps a limited amount… of anything.  Apart from the artists that are known well, there are twice as many that are not worse and are sometimes even better… This is not fair in a sense, but when a person starts pursuing art, he does not think about justice, he has some other motivation, is that right?

It is. But when true monsters are only known to national admirers, I still find this strange.

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Some splendid authors are not known to national admirers either, such injustice may thrive perfectly well within a domestic culture.

Such things also happen, that’s true… Take Perov, Hunters at Rest, — this is a Russian version of The Luncheon on the Grass by Manet. But let’s drop this.

 

I know that these pieces were actually created as road signs, and it you set them up by a road, this will be more unexpected than in the tunnel. I would even advise a kind of “guerilla warring”, fixing the picture with the bears at the entrance to the town in the night… Do you consider these images as souvenirs?  

We are doing a project with an engraver company now. On pebble-stones. A primitive picture that looks like a prehistoric one. One looks at it and sees the three bogatyrs.

 

It would be certainly nice to find one on the beach…  

Guelman suggested a good idea in this respect – promoting a tradition of throwing stones with pictures in the sea instead of coins, in order to come back; some stones will then be washed back to the beach, to be found by someone… But it has just occurred to me that we could produce a certain number of copies, a kind of a promotional batch, and throw them about at beaches. Indeed, let people find them!

 

In the tunnel, there is another work of yours, with some guy with a gun jumping out from behind the corner, with an amusing optical effect. I do not even know how to treat it – in terms of the topic, this is much lower than the three main pieces, and it is not super-well-painted, but that location at the turn seems to be a good choice…

The cowboy seems to come out of an open door, the trick is that in terms of direction the painting is towards the viewer, but it terms of perspective it is made away from the viewer, everything is cut and incurved a bit, but it is incurved with the perspective taken into account and what seems to be in the forefront is not actually there…  

 

Quodlibet is a noble ancient genre. Have you had any other works in this genre?

I had 3D street art. That is, when something is drawn on the pavement, and you photograph it from a specific point, and the piece seems to be three dimensional. I also did this with an archway in a wall… I drew an astronaut, and the whole archway was used… well, as a black luminaire in a spacesuit.  And if you stood in the arch, you reflected – if photographed – in that spacesuit, you know what pictures look like if you are photographed on the moon…  

Ok, this is difficult without photos, let us drop the space topic…  

 

Vyacheslav Kuritsyn